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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
GB0099 KCLMA Lees
LEES, Lt Aubrey Trevor Oswald (1899-1969)
Level of description
Collection (fonds)
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
0.08 cubic metres (8 boxes)


Name of creator(s)
Lees, Aubrey Trevor Oswald, 1899-1969, Lieutenant, Administrative Officer, Zanzibar and Palestine
Administrative / Biographical history

Born, 1899; educated at Repton and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich; commissioned into the Royal Artillery, 1919; served with 58 Battery, 35 Bde, Royal Field Artillery, 1919-1920; Transport Officer, attached to 2 Bn, Royal Welch Fusiliers, Anglo-Irish War, Limerick, Ireland, 1920-1921; Lt, 1921; employed under the Colonial Office with Arab and Kurdish Levies, 1922; commanded Sqn, 1 and 2 Regiments, Iraq Levies, 1922-1924; Special Service Officer (Intelligence), attached to RAF, Ramadi, Iraq, 1924-1926; Administrative Officer, Zanzibar, 1926-1928; retired from Army, 1929; Administrative Officer, Palestine, 1929-1938; service in Haifa, Gaza, Hebron and Jaffa, Palestine, 1930-1938; sent on leave for criticising the Palestinian Government in its handling of atrocities, Nov 1938; turned down appointment in Gold Coast, 1939; retired from Colonial Service, 1940; died, 1969.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Presented to the Centre by Lees' family in 1987.

Content & structure

Scope and content

Papers, 1880-1947, of Lt Aubrey Trevor Oswald Lees and his family, covering the whole span of Lees' career in the army and Colonial Service and touching on British administration in Iraq, Zanzibar and Palestine between the two World Wars. Papers, 1880-1932, of Lees' parents, Oswald and Ethel, include personal correspondence and an account by Ethel Lees of their journey to Palestine, 1921. Lees' correspondence with his parents and aunts, 1905-1941, includes commentary on problems facing the British in the government of their colonies and dependencies. Papers, 1917-1921, relating to Lees' early career include letters of congratulation on gaining a place at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, 1917, and correspondence with batmen and servants, 1920-1921. Papers, 1922-1926 and undated, relating to service in Iraq include a programme and script of a play performed on SS MASSILLIA sailing from Liverpool to Bombay, 1922; transcript of proceedings of the trial of Lees for assaulting and insulting a police officer of the Iraq railways at Khanniquin, 1923; account of Lees' journey through the Shamiyah country of Iraq and his encounters with Bedouin tribes, 1924; correspondence relating to Lees' dismissal as a Special Service Officer (Intelligence) with the RAF in Iraq, and appointment to the Colonial Service in Zanzibar, 1925-1926; undated transcript of the preface to Richard Burton's translation of the 'Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night', criticizing ignorance of the Arabic language and of Moslem customs by the British Colonial service; undated notes on the Nuharram (10 days penance observed by Shia Moslems). Papers, 1927-1929 and undated, on service in Zanzibar and the Colonial Office, London, include letters from Lees describing his journey home, apparently from Zanzibar, by dhow via Aden and Mokalla, 1928; undated notes on the establishment of a British Protectorate over Zanzibar; and correspondence relating to Lees' transfer to the post of Administrative Officer, Palestine, 1928-1929. Papers, 1929-1943, on Lees' service in Palestine and retirement from the Colonial Service include papers relating to land settlement, 1934-1935, to Lees' actions as Assistant District Commissioner, Southern District, Gaza, during Arab-Jewish disturbances, 1936, and to Lees' suspension from duties in Palestine for criticizing the Palestinian Government's attitude towards alleged Jewish atrocities and his enforced retirement from the Colonial Service, 1938-1940; and letters to Lees, 1939, informing him of events in Palestine. Other papers, 1921-1947 and undated, include personal correspondence. Photographs relate to his service in Iraq, 1922-1925, in Zanzibar, 1926-1928, and in Palestine, 1929-1938.

System of arrangement

The papers are arranged in the following sections: correspondence between Lees and his parents and aunts; early career; service in Iraq; service in Zanzibar and the Colonial Office, London; service in Palestine and retirement from the Colonial Service; personal and miscellaneous; photographs; correspondence and papers relating to Lees' parents, Oswald and Ethel Lees.

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, attention of the Director of Archive Services.

Language/scripts of material
Finding aids

Draft list available online and in hard copy in the reading room. 

Allied materials

Existence and location of originals
King's College London College Archives
Related units of description

King's College London, Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives holds papers of Capt Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart, including correspondence with Lees, Mar-Apr 1945 (Ref: LH2L/76/1-4).

Description control

Archivist's Note
Compiled by Iain Mutch; revised by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.
Rules or conventions
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

Date(s) of descriptions
Nov 1999, Mar 2001, updated 2016

Box List(s)

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  • Colonial administration
  • Colonial conflicts
  • Colonial countries
  • Colonialism
  • Imperialism
  • Political doctrines
  • Political systems

Personal names

  • Lees, Aubrey Trevor Oswald, 1899-1969, Lieutenant, Administrative Officer, Zanzibar and Palestine
  • Lees, Aubrey Trevor Oswald, 1899-1969, Lieutenant, Administrative Officer, Zanzibar and Palestine


  • Iraq, Middle East
  • Palestine, Middle East
  • Zanzibar, Tanzania UR, East Africa

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